Local teenagers have the chance to be heroes in their communities thanks to Metropolitan Library System, which kicked off its Summer Reading Program on June 1 with a superhero theme.
By signing up to volunteer, teens will get the chance to interact with children participating in the program and help hand out incentives to them when they reach their goals.
Volunteers can also serve their communities by signing up to be reading buddies who read one-on- one with kids at the library.
Through involvement in a teen service team or teen advisory board, teenagers help brainstorm, plan and execute library programming with the help of the librarians. The teenagers get to participate in the crucial planning stages and then volunteer on the day of the event.
These teams are also a great place for young people to meet their peers and make friends with similar interests, said Kim Terry, director of marketing and communications for Metropolitan Library System.
We get so many families, children and adults coming to the library. Were trying to get a lot more teens ... So the advisory boards and the teams come up with these creative programs to get them in the library, said Terry.
Often, the volunteers end up enjoying the mentoring and leadership experience so much that they continue to volunteer after the conclusion of their projects.
In 2014, Metropolitan Library System had more than 900 teen volunteers during the Summer Reading Program, Friends of the Library Book Sale and other events throughout the year. In August, the library will throw a party at Laser Quest to thank all of the volunteers for their help.
Oklahoma teens can use their volunteer experiences with the library as resume boosters because they will build key career skills.
By assisting customers with online needs, volunteers can improve their computer skills, and the teens who interact with patrons in the customer service area can sharpen their communication skills. They can even develop their artistic abilities by creating bulletin board designs.
Volunteering at the library can also be a way to pave a path to employment for teens. The library is always hiring library aids. Employees who work this part-time position sort and shelve books, clean and assist with customer service. Starting pay is $10.02 per hour, and the hours are flexible, depending on individual library needs.
Most library branches are always actively seeking volunteers, Terry said.
Once teens have applied and been accepted to volunteer, they will watch some online training videos and discuss volunteering expectations. Interested youth ages 12 to 17 are welcome to volunteer without a background check, but anyone 18 years or older must submit to one.
The Summer Reading Program runs through July 31, and both adults and children can sign up online.
To learn about volunteer opportunities at your library, go to supportmls.org/volunteer and click on opportunity search.
To sign up for the Summer Reading Program, visit metrolibrary. org/summerreading.
Contact Heidi Port, volunteer services coordinator, with questions at 606-3762 or volservices@ metrolibrary.org.